Category Archives: Spain


Barcelona, Spain May 5, 2023

On May 5th we arrived at our port in Barcelona, Spain. We were feeling tired from the previous two days of lots of walking. We had planned on riding the Hop On Hop Off Bus in Barcelona which made for an easier day. 

Barcelona, population 1.6 million, is one of the largest metropolises on the Mediterranean Sea. As with any large city, there is always the chance of petty crime, in particular pickpockets. We had heard stories from other travelers and we were on guard, but experienced no problems. 

The day began somewhat stressful. The ship arrived an hour later than planned and when we arrived at the terminal there was a very long line waiting to buy bus tickets. After buying those tickets we learned we had to stand in another line to get a different ticket for a shuttle bus to take us from the port several miles to the location of the Hop On buses.

This is their World Trade Center

The Christopher Columbus Statue

The Christopher Columbus stands a 24 ft tall bronze statue atop a 131 ft tall Corinthian column. The statue said to depict Columbus pointing towards the New World.

Then there was a huge line waiting for the shuttle buses and then once we got into Barcelona, another long line to board the Hop On buses. We learned there were five cruise ships in port today with over 16,000 cruise passengers wanting to visit the city.

Our perseverance paid off. When the next Hop On bus arrived, the bus was miraculously empty. We were the first ones on and were able to grab prime seats on the top deck. We contentedly rode the orange-line bus around the city snapping pictures from the top deck.

This stadium in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain was originally built in 1927 for the 1929 International Exposition in the city. It was renovated in 1989 to be the main stadium for the 1992 Summer Olympics. The Olympic torch is on the left of the entrance.

As we passed the most popular attractions we could see long lines everywhere.  We saw nothing we wanted to see bad enough to give up our great seats. We had visited Barcelona in 2016 on a month long bus tour of Europe and had already visited many of the top tourist attractions.

Barcelona Stadium

This time we were able to see many parts of Barcelona we had not seen before such as different residential and shopping areas. The best way to share our day is with pictures. The architecture is exquisite. We liked Barcelona very much but prefer a small town like Cartagena with much less people and less traffic.

National Art Museum of Catalonia is located in the National Palace of Montjuïc, built for the International Exhibition of 1929.

The Las Arenas de Barcelona bullring was inaugurated in 1900 and was the second of 3 bullfighting rings built in Barcelona. Closed in 1977, then converted it into a shopping canter and entertainments complex.

Previous Bull Fighting Ring

Eventually we needed lunch and a restroom so we saw several possible places for lunch and hopped off at the next stop. We enjoyed a relaxing lunch sitting outside surrounded by plenty of pigeons, hoping for a handout.

Even The Pigeon Likes Five Guy Fries

After lunch we walked around the square while enjoying the beautiful day. As luck would have it we walked right by a Hard Rock Cafe where Bill got a “Hard Rock Cafe Barcelona” tee shirt. A miracle we came upon it considering the size of the city. We then hopped back on the bus for the last part of the bus tour. Getting the shuttle bus back to the ship was much easier in the afternoon. After logging over five miles on our watches, we were glad to get back on the ship and relax.

Elevators Here use “-1” for Basement

Next stop: Toulon, France

Cartagena, Spain May 4, 2023

On May 4th we visited the beautiful Mediterranean port city of Cartegena, Spain, population 220,000.

It was a charming city that we liked very much. Once again, instead of scheduling a ship excursion, we decided to explore on our own. We purposely had a late breakfast to let the thundering herd of eager passengers get off first. By the time we left the ship, there were no lines at the elevators or gangway.

Cartagena City Hall

Cartagena Crest

Cartegena was founded by the Carthaginians around 220 B.C. There are Roman ruins including a 1st century Roman theater.

Roman Theatre As Seen From The Fortress

After stopping by the information booth at the port entrance to get a map of the city, we headed to the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, a fortress. In order to get to the fortress located high above the city, we first took a lift to the top. What a beautiful panoramic view we had of the city!

This is the Fee Based Lift or Elevator

The Remains of a Bullfighting Ring

A Model Of The Fortress

The castle fortress was built in 1536 by African slave labor under Spanish rule during the colonial era. Its high location in a strategic position provided protection from enemies by land or sea. The triangular shape included eight batteries and a garrison of 200 soldiers and four gunners.

No Flags but Poles Representing Cartagena

Our Ship from the Panoramic View Point

Viewing the City from the Panoramic View Point

Viewing the City from the Panoramic View Point

Inside the Fortress

Peacocks Run Wild Near the Fortress

Today, Cartegena is an important naval base. The inventor of the first battery powered submarine, Isaac Peral, came from Cartegena. 

As we walked along we saw many tiled pictures like this.

We also saw the beautiful The Royal Basilica of Our Lady of Charity is a neoclassical Catholic temple with a metal structure.

After visiting the fort we walked to the popular and pedestrian friendly street, Calle Mayor, in the heart of downtown and not far from the harbor. Closed to traffic, it is a very clean, picturesque area of stores and restaurants where people stroll along or sit at little sidewalk cafes enjoying coffee or a meal with pleasant sea breezes. Above the stores and restaurants are apartments and residences. The architecture is stunning.

Artificial Flowers Around the Town

Iglesia Castrense de Santo Domingo, a Catholic Church, built 1580

Gran Hotel from 1916

Battle of Santiago de Cuba was a decisive naval engagement that occurred on July 3, 1898 between an American fleet, led by William T. Sampson and Winfield Scott Schley, against a Spanish fleet. This monument is in commemoration of the Spanish losses.

After logging almost five miles, we returned to the ship. One thing we have noticed is the sidewalks in Spain are usually cobblestone, tile or marble. They can be slick and are definitely harder on the feet and legs. We had a great day and we would definitely like to return here again someday. 

Next up: Barcelona, Spain

Malaga, Spain May 3, 2023

Very early on May 3, just after midnight we began our passage through the Strait of Gibraltar. We went up on a top deck to see the lights of Spain on one side and Africa on the other. It was so windy I thought we were going to be knocked off our feet. We could see lights in the distance but unfortunately it was too dark to see the famous Rock of Gibraltar. We will have to save that for another trip.

Morocco to the South in Africa

Another Ship Headed for Malaga

After getting to bed shortly before 2:00 AM, we were up at 8:30 for breakfast. After nine days at sea, we arrived at the port in Malaga, Spain. Malaga lies on the southern coast of Spain on the Mediterranean Sea and is a beautiful city of just under 600,000, the sixth most populous in Spain. It is known for beautiful weather, with 300 days of sunshine a year. Malaga’s history goes back 2,800 years, making it one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Western Europe. Its most important economy comes from tourism, construction and technology. In recent years it has become a tech hub with a new large technology park.

Instead of doing a ship excursion, we decided to walk around and explore on our own. After exiting the ship we walked along the beachfront on a lovely pedestrian walkway that led to the town center.

In the old historic area we saw an ancient Roman theater dating to the 1st century B.C.

High above the ruins, on a steep hill overlooking the sea, is the Moorish Castle of Gibralfaro, built in the 11th century. Also is the dramatic LA Alcazaba, an old military fortification originally built to protect the city from pirates.

Malaga is the birthplace of Pablo Picasso and his birthplace is a museum. There is an additional museum of some of his work.

Next we saw the majestic Cathedral of Malaga, a huge Renaissance designed Catholic church built between 1528 and 1782.  There was a long line waiting to enter so we didn’t go inside.  

Of course no port stop is complete without a stop at the Hard Rock Café so Bill could add to his Hard Rock tee shirt collection.

We made our way back to the ship with just under seven miles logged on our watches. Sure felt good to sit down for a late lunch with lots of iced tea and water! 

With no sea days left and four more ports before we reach Rome, we have some very busy days ahead! 

Next up: Cartegena, Spain